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Who is the Bride of Christ?

The scriptures warn us about being carried away by “diverse and strange doctrines” in Hebrews 13:9 and “doctrines of devils” in I Timothy 4:1. There are a lot of these aberrant doctrines circulating on the internet, but one in particular seems to be gaining some traction.

While the term, “The bride of Christ” is used to describe the church, or the body of Christ, there are some who are changing that doctrine by claiming that the bride of Christ is not the church, but instead one woman.

In this false and erroneous doctrine, it is being taught that prior to His incarnation, Jesus was married to her and she is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. This negates Jesus as being the embodiment of the Spirit which contradicts what He taught in John 14 about the Spirit and Himself, as we shall see.

This cult teaches that the Holy Spirit is a she, even though the Spirit is rendered in the neuter in the Greek and because of this grammatical fact, the Spirit is actually referred to as an “It” in some verses in the King James Version, specifically Romans 8:16,26 and I Peter 1:11. The Holy Spirit is referred to as a “He” in scripture because life begins with the Father, not the mother. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father in Matthew 10:20, who is the instigator of all life through the Son in John 1:3, Colossians 1:16 and Ephesians 3:19. Psalm 104:30 declares – “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created.”

The Holy Spirit is also Jesus’ Spirit. When Jesus is telling His disciples that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter will come to them, in the next breath He says, “I will come to you” in John 14:18. In verse 17, He said, “He that is with you, will be in you.” The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and Jesus was given life by the Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is His life force Jesus said, “As the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). The Holy Spirit is the vehicle through which the Father and the Son inhabit the believer. Jesus says in John 14:23, “If a man loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.” Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 that He will come into us and sup with us.

The apostles recognized that Jesus’ Spirit is the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, Galatians 4:6, Philippians 1:19), and is the reason why Jesus said, “I and My Father are One” in John 10:30. They are the same Spirit. Obviously the scriptures do not support the Holy Spirit being one woman or Jesus’ wife.

The Holy Spirit directs us to the person and work of Christ in John 16:14. The Spirit magnifies and glorifies Jesus and His atonement for our sins, not some imaginary wife of Jesus.

The people who are embracing all this “bride of Christ is one woman” nonsense are apparently not interested in what the scriptures actually teach and have no regard for foundational doctrine as taught by our Lord Jesus and His apostles. In fact they will vilify anyone who tries to correct them with the scriptures as I have experienced myself.

These false teachers claim the teaching that the church is the bride originates from the Catholic Church. This is not true. The doctrine originated by the Jews, based on multiple Old Testament scripture references where God identifies Himself as the Husband of His people. Solomon’s Song of Songs was recognized as being an allegory of God’s love for His bride, His people, and is often read at Passover services.

This view is carried over to the New Testament. The Apostle Paul relates the relationship of a husband and wife to the relationship with Jesus and His church in Ephesians 5, verses 31 and 32. - “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

Jesus incorporated Hebrew wedding customs into His teaching, which relate Him as the bridegroom and His people as His bride. When He was addressing His disciples in John 14, He tells them that He is going away to prepare a place for them, then He will return and gather them to Himself. In the Hebrew marriage tradition, when a man and woman became engaged, the bridegroom would leave to prepare a home for his bride, which would usually take about a year. Then he would return to get her. She would never know exactly when, until there was a public declaration that he was coming.

Jesus again is relating His parable of the ten virgins to this custom. In this parable, it is announced that the Bridegroom is coming for His bride, which is represented by the ten virgins. Five have retained their faith, represented by the lamp oil. The other five have let their faith run out and are told by the other virgins that they must go and buy their own oil.

Jesus returns after the prophesied beast one world empire has reached its fullness and has implemented the mark of the beast which allows people to buy and sell. Apparently the five virgins, representing half of the church, have abandoned the basic doctrine of salvation by Jesus alone and that He is the only way to the Father, John 14:6. Because they have compromised with the beast system which God has forbidden people to do in Revelation 14:9 - 11, they have obviously taken the mark and are able to go and buy. This is why they are rejected by the Bridegroom and told that He has never known them, because they have denied Him. Jesus said very clearly that anyone who denies Him He will deny before the Father in Matthew 10:33.

We can see why cleaving to the foundational tenets of the Christian faith as originally established by Jesus and His apostles is so vitally important.

The one woman bride cult also teaches that the ten virgins are not the bride of Christ, they are bridesmaids. The custom of having ten bridesmaids at a wedding originated with the Romans and is not a Hebrew tradition. In the Hebrew custom it is the bride who kept the oil lamp burning continually while she was waiting for her bridegroom to come and get her; a custom that reflects God’s command to keep the oil lamps burning continually in the temple.
     Also the number ten in Hebrew numerology represents multiple components that make a whole; which is an accurate description of Jesus’ bride who consists of multiple believers that comprise the whole body of Christ.

The apostle John is shown the bride of Christ represented by the New Jerusalem in Revelation’s chapter 21. This city is made up of the individual temples of the Holy Spirit; the habitations of God by the Spirit as described in Ephesians 2:22. They are spiritual buildings, the people that have come to God by faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and are indwelt by His Holy Spirit. This city is built upon the foundation of the apostles and their doctrine which in turn is based on the foundation of the Messiah Jesus who is the chief cornerstone, Ephesians 2:20. This foundation identifies the true bride of Christ. We can discern her by examining her foundation.

In the scriptures, the bride of Christ is the church, consisting of disciples and believers in Jesus, all in various stages of spiritual development. While the scriptures indicate a distinction between disciples of Christ and believers who have not yet grown into the place where they can pick up their cross and actually follow Him, all believers will eventually be perfected.
    In Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, the disciples are the servants sent to call all those who can hear to the marriage supper of the Lamb in Matthew 22, verses 1 through 14. This is where all the guests the servants have gathered are adorned like the disciples, with the righteous wedding garment imparted to them through Jesus’ sacrifice that designates them as the called who have been chosen. During this time on earth, the guests and the disciples are waiting until the time when each one of them will be seated with their bridegroom Jesus at the head of the table when He comes to gather His church at the first resurrection after the tribulation, in Matthew 24:31. The bride of Christ is not some deified being one step away from being worshipped as a goddess.

The use of wedding symbolism in scripture is used to convey the principle of intimacy with God with His people through Christ, and is in no way intended to represent a literal marriage. When carnal people who are void of the Holy Spirit attempt to interpret scripture, spiritual principles are not understood and overlooked. As a result the wedding analogies are interpreted as literal and physical events, and we end up with false and erroneous doctrines.

Jesus’ atonement seems to be diminished in this one woman bride cult, and salvation seems to be obtained only by those who have accepted belief in the one woman bride fantasy.

Always keep in mind, children that the devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking who he can devour away from the faith in I Peter 5:8. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim. Saturate yourself in God’s word alone. Build your house on that solid rock foundation of Christ and His word and you cannot be destroyed by the destructive storm winds of false doctrine.

God, the Husband of His People

The concept of God being the husband of His people, and His people being His “bride,” does not originate with man, but with God Himself.

Isaiah 54:5 - For your Maker is your husband; the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall He be called.

Jeremiah 3:14 - Turn, O backsliding children, says the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Jeremiah 31:32 - Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says the LORD:

Hosea 2:16 - And it shall be at that day, says the LORD, that you shall call me Ishi;…
(Eesh – which means husband).

In Ezekiel 16, God speaks to His people as one woman whom He has raised up and has entered into an intimate relationship with - Ezekiel 16:8 - Now when I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold, your time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yes, I swore to you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became Mine.

In Hosea chapter two, God’s people are again portrayed as His unfaithful wife.- Hosea 2:7 - And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say,” I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.” Her first husband is God.

The concept of God being the husband of His people is carried over into the New Covenant and is one reason why the Apostle Paul likened the marriage relationship between a man and woman to the relationship between Jesus and His church; and why New Jerusalem in Revelation is referred to as His bride, the church.

The concept that the church is not the bride, is not based on scripture. When the church does not see herself as God’s wife, then according to the examples of her unfaithfulness in Ezekiel and Hosea, that church is in apostasy. It is through apostasy from the scriptures that false doctrines originate and the teaching that the church is not the bride is one of them.

Copyright 2023 by H.D. Shively

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